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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: In-Law(s) (05/08/08)

TITLE: Seven Short Months
By Carolyn Cyphers


How could I endure the next four days? To have anxiously awaited the whole of February with exultant expectation, yet be overwhelmed with a sense of doom, was shaking me to my very core.

Lynn and I had known for over a year now that upon my college graduation next year, we’d be getting married. I had been expecting the ring over Christmas, but Uncle Sam had intervened. Lynn’s low draft number, coupled with the terrifying escalation in Viet Nam, had compelled him to enlist that December. Now here I was, parked in front of his house with my suitcases packed and a firm grasp on my shattered nerves. His parents and sister had invited me to join them on a five hundred mile trek to Fort Campbell, Kentucky to partake in Lynn’s graduation from boot camp. From there he’d be heading on to Indianapolis for training and then on to Mannheim, Germany for the duration of his tour of duty.

Perhaps you might wonder why all the jitters? Surely, you have heard the old adage about ‘A Young Man’s Mother- “no girl is good enough for my son!” There had never been a smidgeon of rapport between us.

Lynn and I met our senior year and were exclusive from the start. Separate colleges only endeared us all the more, as we kept the roads pretty hot every weekend. But even though I faithfully made him keep his early curfew and strove endlessly to make his parents proud, we were always at an impasse it seemed. Lynn spent every Sunday afternoon with my family, and I believe that she struggled with a severe sense of loss.

Could it have been just last month that I was returning a plate we’d had inadvertently kept since Christmas. She met me at my car, and when I attempted to explain our tardiness, she simply replied,”That’s your tail. I’ll sit on mine.” She turned, strode back into the house and shut the door. That was the last time I had seen her. Now here I was sitting in their back seat, my heart palpitating. Thank goodness for Cynthia, who was looking forward to her own graduation, and was full of the promise of tomorrow. Furthermore, she liked me, somewhat.

Surprisingly, the tone was cheerful-everyone’s spirits were uplifted; engaging in the euphoria of seeing Lynn. Hearing the pride in his parents’ voices warmed me toward them immensely. What could have been a harrowing journey was turning into a jovial jaunt. We all couldn’t wait until the morrow when the object of our desire would be there in the physical, not our dreams, nor our memories, but tangibly present….to hail…to nuzzle…to embrace….dare I even say the word …..to kiss?

I had never kissed him in front of her before. As I stood there watching him fall out of formation, and stride over to us, my heart was hammering the Edinburgh Military Tattoo. My thoughts, stumbling , ‘should I…what should I…’and then he was there, pulling me into his arms, clasping me into a full body embrace, and suddenly his lips were on mine, no more thoughts, only the melting of two hearts, beating as one. And then my head was on his shoulder, as he was slowly turning me, firmly ensconced in the crook of his arm, he reached for her. There she was, as she had been all along, smiling blissfully, and I knew at that moment that everything was going to be alright.

Just one month later I received a call in my dorm room that his mother was in the hospital. She had come out of remission and she was gravely ill. That weekend when I went to see her, I saw her through such different eyes. Where was the formidable woman who had so fiercely tried to keep her family intact? Who was this frail woman who knowingly looked into my eyes, held my hand, and without a word, was freely placing her son into my life. “Love him” is all she had the strength to say, and she knew he was safe in my heart. The Red Cross contacted Lynn on July seventh, one day before my twenty first birthday. He was coming home but it was all so surreal. How could this have happened? So much can change in seven short months. I did get my ring that summer, I never dreamed that she could have made that possible, but she did. I love her for that, too.

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Sara Harricharan 05/15/08
Hmmm, this is pretty good. I liked the story how it played out, though I wasn't sure how the seven months fit in, since it wasn't mentioned until the near end. I did like MC's voice though-very realistic. ^_^
Lyn Churchyard05/19/08
Very enjoyable story. You were able to relay your MC's feelings without excess drama. Some nice turns of phrase too... ”That’s your tail. I’ll sit on mine.” and
"tangibly present….to hail…to nuzzle…to embrace….dare I even say the word …..to kiss?" Really added to the story. Well done.

James Dixon05/20/08
Yes, this is good. Even if it doesn't place (‘beginners’ is a deceptively tough level)' this story is still good. Keep it up.
Betty Castleberry05/20/08
I'm guessing this is true. If not, you've made it very real. You pulled your reader right along with you. Very nicely done.
Joanne Sher 05/23/08
Congratulations, Carolyn, on placing eleventh in your level with this piece. Great job!